Amazon AWS Graviton Processor in newly launched Amazon AWS A1 instances

I guess I can now admit to being at re:Invent in Las Vegas, and share a little bit about what I’ve been up to over the past little while. This is the first in a mini series, so stay tuned for more…

Today, Amazon announced their first Arm server offering. The new Amazon EC2 A1 instances provide a means for everyone to now share in the tremendous fun that is using and developing with Arm servers, which a few of us have been involved with for the past 8 years. I’ve been serving as technical lead on the Red Hat team that has enabled support for these new instances in RHEL7.6, creating various test AMIs and helping the regular teams that work on EC2 to get up to speed with Arm. It’s been fun, and the team has been absolutely amazing, completing the work in record time, with a quality product at the end of it all. This was made possible thanks to already having a RHEL offering for the Arm architecture, a labor of love over many years.

For the past 8 years or so, I’ve been Red Hat’s Chief Arm Architect. I co-created the Red Hat Arm server team back in 2011, alongside my trusty partner in crime Brendan. We had many fun adventures in the early days, and we were under no illusions that the journey would be long and arduous to get a new architecture into the mainstream. We always longed for a day like today, but we knew it would take determination and perseverance on the part of many involved for us to build the world as it would need to be in order for Arm to truly enter the mainstream. Today, Arm is ready to be a part of that mainstream of Cloud, and ready to help fuel the next wave of innovation that will continue to drive exciting solutions for end users and developers alike.

I remember with great fondness a rainy day toward the end of 2010. Standing in one of my exec’s offices, I held up a BeagleBoard and said that this would be a server within a few years. There were a few fits and starts, and some lessons along the way, but ultimately we built a new world of high performance 64-bit native Arm servers that should feel familiar to anyone using a mainstream server today. This is in part thanks to a heavy dose of industry standardization that was one of my personal contributions to the overall cause. I felt early on that Arm servers could only succeed if they had a common foundation in terms of functionality, similar to that seen on other architectures. And that is why Arm servers use ACPI, UEFI, and other existing standards — there was no benefit in re:inventing the wheel, and a lot to gain from adopting what worked well.

Standardization is why operating systems like RHEL, Fedora, CentOS, and others can “just work” on Arm server platforms such as those announced by Amazon today. In fact, if you didn’t look very closely, you might not at first even notice that you were using an Arm server. That was by design. And standardization will be key to the next wave during which many others building cloud offerings will (finally) realize the benefits that come from being able to build and deploy their own Arm server solutions. When you do, remember to give me a call early on for input. I’ve been there at the birth of almost every Arm server chip to date, and I am always willing to make myself available to help those entering this space to navigate the players and the landscape.

I’ve been playing with Amazon’s A1 instances for a while and I’m blown away by the quality of the engineering and the capabilities of the team, as I always am with Amazon. Stay tuned to hear more about my adventures with A1, and come find me at re:Invent if you’d like to talk about Arm servers, or running RHEL on Arm. It’s my first time here, but I’m hoping that it becomes a regular thing. I’m looking forward to seeing a few of you as the week progresses.